Dopapod returned to Asheville, North Carolina on Wednesday for a long awaited show with Pigeons Playing Ping Pong. This was the first time both bands had played The Orange Peel, a highly sought after venue for touring bands visiting Western North Carolina. The audience was full of fans and musicians alike. Phish’s Mike Gordon was in attendance, bobbing his head in signature style. The crowd also featured most of Papadosio, supporting their touring mates.
Pigeons Playing Ping Pong started the night off with a high-energy performance, seeing frontman Greg Ormont narrating the band’s performance with his well-known facial contortions.
The Pigeons track “Walk Outside” lends itself to elements of the Allman Brothers’ “Jessica,” with elements of funk thrown into the mix. Fans unfamiliar with PPPP’s newest album, Pleasure, had this tune catch them by surprise. Ending their set with their slick brand of funk and humor, “F.U.” was a terrific way to leave the crowd on a high note.
This was Neal “Fro” Evans’ first show in Asheville after returning to Dopapod’s roster. Fro took a break from the band during 2013 with Scotty Zwang, who has now joined RAQ, handling the drums during his absence. While many were saddened by the departure of Zwang, Dopapod purists have been delighted by Evans’ return to the group.
“Nerds” was a clever way to start the night, poking fun at jam band fans and their fastidious nature. Dopapod’s signature moog rhythms cut through The Orange Peel, bouncing off the walls and shaking the room. Bassist Chuck Jones led an incredible “Nuggy Jawson,” starting dark and heavy until the synthesizer interlude cut through the tension and let a playful and soaring jam commence.
Lighting Director Luke Stratton lit up the stage spectacularly, elevating Dopapod’s performance for all. Eli Winderman‘s keyboard skills especially stood out as he led the band through a spectacle of improvisation. Guitarist Rob Compa was firing on all cylinders as well, shredding through “Present Ghosts,” at times even dueling Winderman. Dopapod constantly allows for these open moments of improvisation, the incentive that continually draws in loyal fans and newcomers alike. The band’s classical training can become obvious at times, as the band seamlessly flows from one idea to the next, leaving fans caught in the beat.
Dopapod’s fall tour is coming to a close as the band prepares for their two night New Year’s Eve run at the Madison Theater in Covington, Kentucky. This will mark the band’s first NYE shows outside of their Northeastern home base. “The Ohio, Indiana, Kentucky area has long held a special place in our hearts,” Winderman said at the show on Wednesday. “The last three years in Worcester, Massachusetts have all been purely magical. We wanted to switch things up this year to keep the celebratory spirit fresh. We figure to help preserve that, let’s spread that magic and love to another region that has also always embraced and made us feel at home.”